Four and a half years after he released his last studio album, Eminem is headed for his fifth straight No. 1 debut next week on the Billboard 200. The artist's "Relapse" (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) could sell as many as 650,000 copies in its first week, based on projections from industry prognosticators.
If it manages more than 600,000, it would easily mark the biggest sales week of the year for any album, and the best since AC/DC's "Black Ice" began with 784,000 copies last October.
The title also leads the Nielsen SoundScan Building Chart that was released on May 20, which reflected unweighted sales through the close of business on Tuesday, May 19. Billboard estimates the seven merchants who report to Nielsen SoundScan's Building chart -- Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, iTunes, Starbucks, Borders, Target and Anderson Merchandisers -- comprise about 60% of all U.S. album sales.
When and if "Relapse" debuts at the top next week, it'll give Eminem his fifth overall No. 1. His only album to miss the top spot was his "Slim Shady LP" debut, which bowed and peaked at No. 2 in 1999.
Em's last studio set, 2004's "Encore," arrived with 711,000 after an abbreviated debut week -- it was released four days earlier than scheduled in order to counter leaks. A little over a year later, his greatest hits package "Curtain Call" took the stage with 441,000 in December 2005. Collectively, his five albums have sold 33.3 million in the U.S., making him the biggest selling hip-hop act of the SoundScan era (1991-present).
So, aside from "Relapse," what else will debut on the Billboard 200 next week? Method Man and Redman's "Blackout! 2" (Def Jam), Kenny Chesney's "Greatest Hits II" (BNA), Dane Cook's "Isolated Incident" (Comedy Central), Busta Rhymes' "Back On My B.S." (Universal Motown) and Tori Amos' "Abnormally Attracted To Sin" (Universal Republic) all look like they could start in the top 15. Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" will most likely slide to the runner-up slot in its second chart week.
Nielsen SoundScan's sales tracking week, as reflected in the official Billboard 200 chart, runs from Monday through Sunday of each week. The newest Billboard 200 chart, released today (May 20) -- where Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" bowed at No. 1 with 215,000 -- reflected the week that ended on Sunday, May 17.